Truth be told, the heart of your wedding lies in the ceremony. This is the moment everything hinged on and what it boils down to; the joining of two hands, two hearts, two lives as one.
As unique as your love and the chapters that have led you here, so should your ceremony be.
One beautiful option that doesn’t cost a pretty penny is working with a marriage commissioner who will allow you to customize your ceremony.
Truth be told, there are only 2 sentences bound by British Columbia law to legalize your marriage in a civil ceremony! That means the rest is up for customizing.
**I share what they are later on in the article
Many times, I work closely with my couples to help them create a perfectly custom and unique ceremony that reflects their loves, their personalities and incorporates elements of sentiment between them.
Here’s my best advice to consider when writing your own…
Five Tips for Creating a Wedding Ceremony thats Meaningful
1. Use a structure thats tried and true
You want guests to enjoy themselves and have an easy time following along. Your ceremony should naturally progresses in a familiar pattern who’s content is unique but the flow predictable. Be sure to write your ceremony taking cue from the following order of events:
- The address i.e.Story of the Couple
- Declaration of Intent
- Ritual or Sentiment [Optional]
- Ring Exchange
- Signing of License
- Ritual or Sentiment [Optional]
- Closing Remarks
- Declaration of Marriage
These 10 steps can happen as quickly as 10 mins, to as lengthly as 60. It all depends on your dreams, hopes and desires. Typically, I suggest couples keep their ceremony between 20- 30 mins for a sit down civil ceremony. Shorter is always better if guests are standing and longer tends to be reserved for Christian and other religious ceremonies.
2. Choose Vows that reflect that way you’d speak
While there are couples who choose to gush their heart out with personalized vows, many others find the thought of creating and sharing a mini speech, at one of the most emotional moments in your life, intimidating! And there’s nothing wrong with that. Simple, “repeat after me” vows have no less meaning or significance than the flowery long winded kind.
While there are thousands of samples online, scour carefully and be sure to choose vows that actually sound like you. Ask yourself, “Is this something I would actually say out loud?”
Here are a sample of vow exchanges which will help you gain an idea of the different style and formats.
3. Take Inspiration from your Favourites
When considering where to draw inspiration, look to the things you two love and consider “your own.” Favourite poems, movie quotes, song lyrics, scripture you’ve read together or even love letters you wrote when you were dating. Consider including these as excepts that break up the formality of the ceremony and give guests a glimpse into the innocence of your hearts.
My husband included the phrases, “Ever thine, ever mine, ever ours” and “You’re the Carry to my Big,” in his wedding vows, in reflection of the hours we spent watching Sex and the City together [terrible, I know I know!] when we were just friends. And excepts from The Notebook, served as anchors throughout our entire ceremony, as we so closely resonated with the story, the struggles and passionate love.
4. Practice Makes Perfect
Try reading the entire ceremony out loud [perhaps to each other] and see how comfortable you are hearing it.
Does it sound like you? Are you passionate about what you’re reading? Would you stay engaged and interested as a guest?
As you read, stories or extra tid-bits might come to mind and can be added to make it more “your own.” If you’re in love with the ceremony in practice, it’ll mean more come wedding day.
5. Consider Tradition; Ask Around
Many people keep copies of their own ceremony script. Ask your friends and family if you could see theirs or inquire about what made theirs so special.
Is there one thing from it they remember most? Did they include traditions or rituals that perhaps you might like to carry on?
Think about your family heritage or those who have passed on. Are their ways you’d like to acknowledge them or share a piece of your family history.
Rituals like lighting a memorial candle or placing a single stem rose on an empty seat, are beautiful ways of acknowledging the deceased. You could also include scripture verses or poems from your own parents weddings.
Still feeling lost? Need something to jump start your creativity?
Here’s a downloadable template of a custom ceremony I created with one of my couples. You’re welcome to use it as a template or as a means for inspiration when writing your own.
ps: Those 2 mandatory statements needed to make your marriage legal in BC?
I solemnly declare that I do not know of any lawful impediment of why I may not be joined in matrimony
I call on those present to witness that I take __to be my lawful wedding husband/wife
Images courtesy of, in order of appearance, left to right and down: KGood Photo, Mathias Fast, Dragonflight Photography, Images by Bethany, FRESH Photos, Daniela Ciuffa Photography, Ophelia Photography.